Preventing Hot Car Tragedy

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This is the time of year when the weather warms up and the news becomes filled with horror stories of babies and toddlers accidentally forgotten in the backseat of a car. Instead of waiting for the tragedies to hit the headlines, start taking precautions now that will help ensure that it will never happen to you.

The issue of children overheating in cars is not a simple one. Sometimes it happens with changes in routines that cause parents to forget that the child is there. Sometimes it is intentionally leaving a child there for the convenience. What they have in common is that no one plans for the outcome.

Children who are rear-facing, have the potential to nap in the car or who cannot get out of their car seat on their own are the most at risk.

Here are some ways to prevent heat stroke and death in a hot car:

  1. Don’t leave your child in the car on purpose, not unless you can see and hear them. We aren’t suggesting you should become a hyper-vigilant, paranoid person about this, but make sure that your child can be seen and heard if you are out of the car and they are in it. Even if the windows are down, your car is going to heat up more than outdoors and have less breeze. Children and babies cannot cool their bodies the same way that adults can, so your child will overheat faster than you would, when you may not be breaking a sweat yet.
  2. Lock your car doors when you leave it (with your kid!) so that your child cannot sneak back in while playing. Keep your keys out of reach inside the house.
  3. Always put your purse, your phone, and anything else you will need at your destination in the backseat with your child.
  4. Arrange the car seats in your vehicle so that if possible, the quietest/youngest child is behind the passenger where they’re more likely to be seen, instead of behind the driver.
  5. Never assume that someone else has gotten your child from the vehicle – always do it yourself or ask immediately.
  6. When there is a change in schedule, change in route, etc., take extra precautions: put a toy in your lap, play kids music on the radio, put the diaper bag directly beside you – do SOMETHING to jog your memory and remind you that there’s someone back there.
  7. If your child goes to daycare, check with them about their policy regarding unplanned absences and see if they have the policy of calling home/work to find out where your child is.
  8. Make sure that anyone else transporting your children (spouse, grandparents, friends, etc.) are aware of the dangers and take precautions also.
  9. Don’t assume that this won’t happen to you.

Keep your eyes open! At work, at the mall, when you’re out, have a quick glance in other people’s cars. Yes, you might seem creepy, so maybe just stick to the one’s with car seats and if caught, say you’re in the market for a new one and ask if they like it ;)

All of the above applies to pets as well. No one likes seeing an overheated dog trapped in a car! Cracking the window is not helping the heat, so don’t leave them in the car.

 

Booster Seat 411

carseat

If you had kids prior to 2005, you may remember a time when booster seats were optional. With the change in car seat regulations and the addition of the booster seat for children ages 4-8 years old/40-80lbs, it is estimated that your child’s risk of injury in an accident is reduced by 59% versus just using a seat belt alone. Despite the increased safety, some research has shown that 30-50% of people misuse booster seats, with premature graduation from the booster seat being the number one type of misuse.

Don’t rush your child from their booster seat!

THE LAW

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act states that children must be in a booster seat until:

  • they are over the age of eight

OR

  • they weigh more than 80lbs/36kg

OR

  • they are more than 145cm/4ft9in tall

Failure to comply could result in a $240 fine and 2 demerit points.

HOWEVER

What is the law and what is the safest for your child are not the same thing. Though the law states that an eight year old child does not need to use a booster seat, it is very likely that your eight year old should still be using a booster seat. To reduce the chance of a head, neck, spinal or abdominal injury in an accident, it is recommended by both the Government of Ontario and the Middlesex-London Health Unit to keep kids in booster seats until:

  1. the shoulder belt lies across the child’s shoulder (not the face or neck) and middle of the chest.
  2. the lap belt lies across the upper thighs, not over the stomach.
  3. your child’s knees bend comfortably over the edge of the vehicle seat when they are sitting all the way against the back of the seat.
  4. your child is taller than 145cm/4ft9in

It is likely that your child will not meet these requirements until they are 10-12 years old. Newer booster seats have weight limits of up to 120lbs to allow for these recommendations to be met.

 

Buckle Up Baby

BuckleUpBaby

The list of Buckle Up Baby Car Seat Clinics has been posted for the 2015 calendar year. If you are expecting a new baby or have a child transitioning from a bucket seat to a rear facing car seat, a rear facing to a forward facing, a forward facing to a booster seat, then consider making an appointment to have the installation verified by the professionals. Correct installation of car seats is a significant challenge for many parents, grandparents, and caregivers and could save many lives and result in less injuries across the province.

Clinics are open to the general public, but require appointments made in advance. Call 519-666-3227 to book an appointment.

It is recommended that you book your appointment 6-8 weeks in advance.

Car seat clinics are held at Westmount Shopping Centre on Parking Level 2 of the Indoor Parking Garage.  Continue reading